For longtime local farm, selling hay no longer pays the bills

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Since 1918, Taylor Huffman’s family has owned and operated farmland in Frederick County, Maryland. She has become the third generation to take over Lawyer’s Winterbrook Farm. 

“My dad’s parents were the farmers, it was a dairy farm. My dad started to grow the business in the early 90’s and purchased other farms, and we grew our hay operation,” Huffman explained.

Huffman says the farm, which specializes in producing high-quality hay, has endured some good and bad years. But things have changed. 

“We’ve started to feel the pressure over the last five to 10 years. The price of seed and fertilizer, equipment, everything has just gone up,” said Huffman.

Huffman has a second job as a real estate agent, and she and her family have diversified the farm beyond hay production.

“You’re raising your crops and you’re selling them, and you’re hoping for a good yield. And if you don’t have an extraordinary year yield-wise, you have to have some other way to supplement your income,” explained president of the Frederick County Farm Bureau, Robert Ramsburg.

The Huffmans started in 2001 with a corn maze, and have since grown to include more than seven different attractions on site like a zip line, slides and more.

“It was our way of kind of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’, if you could say. It’s the things you have to do so the entire family can come and have fun, and you don’t have just a corn maze,” said Huffman.

Christi Saab and her son have spent the day here, and she says the farm is far from the one she grew up on in Pennsylvania.

“When I was young, there weren’t attractions, at least on our farm, for tourists to come and visit the farm at all. There were a lot of hay bales that we played on, but they weren’t there for us to play on. So we made it our playground, but now, it’s made into a playground already,” said Saab.

Huffman says the attractions do bring in more business, but this year’s heavy rains forced the farm to close down for four days, and it hurt their hay production. Still, she’s moving forward. 

“We’re always brainstorming. What we’re personally trying to do at this point is we’re trying to find a way for us to sustain ourselves and our family off our farms,” Huffman explained.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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